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4 Tactics to Trick You Out of Negotiating

The idea that each person is entitled to defend their interests should hardly be shocking. And yet all too often others will try to get the upper hand in a negotiation by convincing you to avoid negotiating and accept circumstances as they have set them. The trick is sowing doubt and undermining your confidence. Imagine playing a basketball game, and the other team tries to win by convincing you not to play! Here are a few tactics they might use:

Tactic #1- Convincing you that you are not entitled to negotiate, or not good at it

No one likes feeling like they misread the room and are out of place. So it’s understandable why women so often second-guess themselves about negotiating when people go out of their way to explain to them that they are not good at doing so, or that they are wrong for simply expressing what they think they deserve. It is curious how easy it is to convince people of this clearly skewed claim- that they are out of line in representing their own interests.

In that basketball game you’re playing, the other team basically tries to tell you “this is not a basketball game!”, or get you to forfeit even getting on the court because you will be so bad at playing. This is definitely not a tactic used only on women, but it is much easier to guilt-trip or deter us from negotiating for ourselves when we’re already bombarded with messages on how unbecoming it is for us to want something for us, and not for our children, families, or the greater good of humanity.

Tactic #2- Convincing you that what you are asking for is illegitimate / out of line

With this tactic, your counterpart exaggerates the value of what you ask for or makes it seem like it is completely disproportionate to fair standards. They will make you feel guilty and ridiculous for even bringing it up! How embarrassing for you. Going back to that basketball game, the other side will make you feel like you’ve asked to kick the ball into the hoop when you’ve just asked for a free-throw after you’ve been fouled.

These two first cases are forms of what we call ‘gaslighting’- convincing you that your perception of reality is misinformed, and causing you to lose your footing.

Some examples of gaslighting out of Sarah Cooper’s fantastic book “How To Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings”

The next two tactics have more to do with the price you are going to have to pay for negotiating. The higher the price to pay, the more likely you are to give up and concede your value without getting anything in return.

Tactic #3- Exhausting you into doing it yourself

In this case, your counterpart will deliver such poor results, or make it so difficult to get a fruitful outcome, that you will find it easier to simply do the work yourself. This feet-dragging could manifest itself in failing to deliver satisfactory results over and over again, usually complementing it with a would-be innocent shrug. Otherwise, it could simply mean arguing pointlessly for so long that you feel trying to explain your position one more time is useless.

Tactic #4- Threatening repercussions / punishment for trying to negotiate

If tactic number 3 is more nuanced, this tactic is quite blatant. If you speak up, ask for more or complain, you will pay a price. In the workplace this may mean missing out on a raise, not getting promoted, or straight up being fired. The price could also be a social one- like exclusion or shaming. As women, the price we pay may be much higher, especially compared to what we’ve “dared” to ask.

What’s a girl to do?

The first point to remember is that you are always responsible for your own interests, and always entitled to defend them. They are yours to be flexible or rigid on and no one else’s – whether in sexual and social relationships or in business negotiations.

Second, is to prepare yourself ahead of negotiations as much as possible, so you are able to reflect on the validity of your interests before a live situation. As discussed in “I Know What I’m Doing”, it’s harder to convince you that you don’t know what you’re doing or saying, if you have your facts straight.

Start working on your insistence muscles, and pay attention when people are trying to exhaust them. In some cases, you can even call them out on it as an effective way to deflect the attempts. You can insist politely when the answer you get is insufficient or unclear.

Unfortunately, threats of punishment are readily translated into actual punishment for women. Calling this out can be one effective tool, but it might not always be enough, and the damages are very real. There is no easy fix to the fact that the cost-benefit structures offered to women are skewed. Always remember, though, that if you don’t like the cost-benefit structure of a negotiation, it is your choice whether you wish to stay in it or not. If you are not rewarded according to what you are giving- you can give less, or you can leave.

See you next post!

Yasmine Guerin

Founder of Negotiatress

Originally posted on August 1, 2020 by Negotiatress



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